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NHL greats en route to Windsor for Long Pond Heritage Classic

<p>The Long Pond Heritage Classic in 2016 was a sold out success and featured hockey players of all ages and skill levels. This year's tournament, on Jan. 21, is poised to see the same success. </p>
<p>The Long Pond Heritage Classic in 2016 was a sold out success and featured hockey players of all ages and skill levels. This year's tournament, on Jan. 21, is poised to see the same success. </p>

WINDSOR, N.S. — Three retired NHLers are planning to lace up their skates Jan. 21 for a fundraising hockey tournament on the very pond that some claim gave birth to the sport.

Ray Bourque, who was the longest-serving captain of the Boston Bruins, André 'Moose' Dupont, of the legendary Broad Street Bullies, and Joe DiPenta, a defenceman with the Anaheim Ducks when they won their only Stanley Cup, will be participating in the Long Pond Heritage Classic later this month.

Ray Bourque, who was the longest-serving captain of the Boston Bruins, André 'Moose' Dupont, of the legendary Broad Street Bullies, and Joe DiPenta, a defenceman with the Anaheim Ducks when they won their only Stanley Cup, will be participating in the Long Pond Heritage Classic later this month.

Ray Bourque, #7 of the Boston Bruins, awaits face off action in game at the Boston Garden. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

“Every single year it gets bigger and better,” said David Hunter, president of the Windsor Hockey Heritage Society and chair of the organizing committee for the classic.

Hunter said the fundraiser, which sees celebrities rubbing elbows with hockey enthusiasts at Long Pond and then at a banquet in the evening, has been sold out for a couple of months.

“We do have a waiting list of players that want to play on the pond that day,” said Hunter.

Nine teams – six mens' teams and three womens' teams — will be on the ice to compete in the friendly tournament. Hunter said the three hockey stars will be skating this year — in previous years, some didn't — and they will be showing off their Stanley Cup rings when they make special appearances in town.

“Ray Bourque will be playing hockey on the pond. Moose DuPont will be playing hockey on the pond, and he can't wait to play against somebody who wants to mix it up a little bit. Joey will be playing too,” said Hunter.

The event begins at 8:30 a.m.

“We invite everybody to come out and see the games because there is no cost. I believe this year will be the largest crowd that we've ever had to watch the games,” said Hunter.

The official opening ceremony will take place around lunchtime.

André 'Moose' Dupont

Hunter said the Long Pond Heritage Classic was originally scheduled for Jan. 28, but they changed it to accommodate Bourque, who is participating in a special NHL function in Los Angeles that weekend.

“They selected the top 100 hockey players and Ray just happens to be one of them,” said Hunter.

Bourque, who holds several NHL records including most career goals, assists, and points by a defenceman, was booked to come to the event a year in advance, Hunter said.

“I think any hockey player or any kid that seen him play, has to like Ray Bourque. He's just a great guy all around.”

Bourque played with the Boston Bruins for 21 years and finished his career with the Colorado Avalanche, where they won the Stanley Cup.

Hunter said the line up of all-stars that participate in the tournament and evening banquet just keeps getting better.

Since the inception of the Long Pond Heritage Classic in 2011, they have had such celebrity athletes as Guy Lafleur, Glenn Anderson, Mike Krushelnyski, Rick Middleton and Ric Nattress visit the site.

Hunter says he already has his sights set on 2018 – and intends to finally bring some Toronto Maple Leafs to town.

“Next year, I promise Toronto Maple Leafs will be in our celebrities,” said Hunter, who is a diehard Toronto fan.

“There's only one team in Canada that wear the maple leaf like the rest of Canada.”

Joe DiPenta

Dan Boyd, the communications director for the hockey fundraiser, said the organizing committee keeps bringing in top talent – and that helps keep the museum functioning.

“We have had big crowds the last few years because we're bringing in top name talent that people have followed in this area for years,” said Boyd.

“I think people in Windsor, West Hants recognize the importance of the hockey heritage museum and the importance of keeping it maintained.”

The event was cancelled in 2013 due to a blizzard. Boyd said they will move it inside to the Hants Exhibition Arena as a last resort.

“We're keeping our fingers crossed for sunshine and cold weather. We can just hope and pray for that because that only makes the event that much better.”

 

Did you know?

There is a radio contest taking place that fans of Ray Bourque will want to enter. AVR 97.7 is giving away a 30-minute coffee break with the NHLer. The meet and greet will be held at one of the Tim Hortons locations in Windsor on Jan. 20. The winner will be announced on Jan. 18.

Retired NHL players Glenn Anderson and Dennis Vial, centre, gather for a group photo with the teams they shared the ice with in the 2015 Long Pond Heritage Classic tournament held Feb. 6 in Windsor.

NHL legend Guy Lafleur was a popular man in Windsor in 2016, with several autograph signings taking place throughout the town – including at Long Pond.

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